Romantic poetry, more so than Victorian, emphasized the power of the imagination and man’s relationship to the supernatural. One of the early romantic poets, William Blake, highlighted both of these romantic attributes in his 1794 poem “The Tyger.”
The poem, composed of six quatrains, poses a series of questions to what at first seems to be a tiger:
Tyger, tyger burning bright
in the forests of the night;
what immortal hand or eye,
could frame thy fearful symmetry.
As the poem progresses, it becomes apparent that Blake is doing more than addressing a tiger; he is wondering about God’s role in creating the being (Satan) who introduced evil and sin to the world:
What the hammer? what the chain,
in what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil, what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp.
This extended metaphor, in which Blake compares God’s creative work to that of a blacksmith, is an imaginative way to express the idea of God’s power. It also raises the question of why God would make something that he knew would someday betray him. This imaginative questioning is typical of the romantic mindset, which usually admitted and often explored the role of the supernatural in our daily lives.